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What Happens To Your Resume After You Click Apply?

Resume tips from a veteran recruiter

What happens after you submit your resume to a job board, a company’s career page, or a job email address?

Gone are the days when all those resumes would be reviewed one at a time by a live person on the HR team. Nowadays, recruiters use software programs called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that allow them to receive, sort, and sift through a large quantity of resumes automatically. The actual hiring managers only have to review a small amount of quality candidates with their own eyes. Or at least that’s the goal…

The reality is that these tools are blunt instruments and for a task as mission-critical as hiring, HR departments still rely on the perspective and processing of their human HR team. As a candidate, this means you need to understand two critical factors in the hiring process:

  1. How to get yourself beyond the initial filter of Applicant Tracking Systems.
  2. How to stand out to the human recruiter so you get selected for an interview.

1/ Making It Through the ATS Filter

No matter what they say in marketing material or how many times they use words like “artificial intelligence” or “machine learning”, ATS are still blunt-force instruments. They are not drawing the connections between your volunteer experience with Habitat for Humanity, your role from 5 years ago as a project manager, and your degree in Industrial Design to deduce that you are a good leader of people with a keen eye for detail and a heart for helping others. No, we are years away from that type of synthesis being done by computers.

What they ARE doing is measuring your resume against a set of criteria that the hiring manager has told the ATS to track, things like level of education, job title, years of experience, or specific keywords. Here are some tips to give yourself the best chance of making it through the ATS filter:

Keep reminding yourself of the purpose of ATS—they are there to sort large quantities of resumes based on specific sets of criteria that a computer can easily read.

2/ Standing Out Once Your Resume is Seen
by a Real Person!

ATS help hiring managers whittle down the flood of resumes from the hundreds to the tens, perhaps from 250 total resumes to 30. If you’ve followed the tips above, you’ll have the best chance of making it to the final 30, but then what? How do you ensure that you are one of the 5-10 finalists that they call for a first round phone screen?

This is where TEREFIC can really help. To understand why, we need to grasp what exactly happens in the process of going from 30 resumes to those final 5 or 10:

  1. The recruiter logs into the ATS and is presented with a list of candidates sorted by relevance.
  2. ATS List of Candidates
  3. They click the first candidate on the list.
  4. The ATS opens the candidate’s profile on the screen. It includes some basic information as well as a preview of the candidate’s resume – which shows only the top half or third of the first page before requiring the recruiter to scroll to see more.
  5. ATS Resume
  6. The recruiter has to decide whether to scroll down for more info, or to move on to the next candidate on the list. That decision is typically made within 3 seconds.
  7. If they scroll down and like what they see, they put the candidate on a short-list.

Understanding this process is crucial because that’s how you beat the competition. You only have 3 seconds and the upper section of your resume to grab the recruiter’s initial attention. If they decide to read more, they rely on a short check list of factors to make a very quick decision: readability, professionalism, matching job title, relevance of the most recent professional experience, and maybe 1 or 2 other criteria specific to the job opening.

Differentiation is key! How are you going to separate yourself from others in these crucial moments?

With TEREFIC, you can build a Power Resume that makes you stand out with a small, but eye-catching badge of excellence in the top right corner that says, “TEREFIC-Verified References.” To back it up, TEREFIC will collect positive testimonials from former colleagues that you can add at the bottom of your resume for when recruiters scroll down to learn more about you.

You have precious few moments of the hiring manager’s eyes and attention to win a spot in the final stack of resumes. Let’s leverage one of your greatest strengths—your reputation and good name—to separate you from the pack. TEREFIC will get you higher.

Want to know more? Learn why TEREFIC is known as the CARFAX of job hunting.

Taylor photo
By Taylor Mee-Lee
Recruiter, Career Coach, Trainer

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